Rams surge late to defeat Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI

NFL teams after losing the Super Bowl #nfl #bengals #football
NFL teams after losing the Super Bowl #nfl #bengals #football

When it came to earning Super Bowl ring, Rams’ Aaron Donald answered the bell

Rams defensive end Aaron Donald walks on the field after defeating the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI Sunday.

Seated behind a dais in a makeshift interview room in SoFi Stadium, Aaron Donald was now unquestionably the most accomplished defensive player of his generation, a Super Bowl win added to a resumé that already included countless individual achievements.

He was also a father who kept a promise.

By his side was his 8-year-old daughter, Jaeda, who clutched a handful of blue, yellow and white rectangular strips of paper.

“We won it!” the girl squealed in delight.

Donald smiled.

Police crack down on unruly Rams fans in downtown L.A.

Rams fans pose on top of and in front of a Los Angeles Metro bus with a sign that reads “Go Rams!”.

Police issued a dispersal order and shot projectiles after some revelers who gathered in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate the Rams’ Super Bowl win grew unruly.

Many of the hundreds of fans who converged near L.A. Live by 8 p.m., including Michael Gillette, 31, and his partner, just wanted to celebrate with the crowd. “It’s a wild night. We are glad we are here,” he said. “In L.A., we aren’t tearing things down, we are building things back.”

But at 11th and Hope streets just before 9 p.m., police cordoned off the area as fans shot off fireworks in the middle of the intersection. Multiple people climbed nearby street lights.

Police on bullhorns told people in the area that they were “risking serious injury” if they stayed, and declared an unlawful assembly on a loudspeaker from a truck. Some revelers left immediately, while others taunted officers, throwing glass bottles in their direction. Police fired projectiles at people as the crowd fled.

Los Angeles, you’ve got another champion. Make room for the Rams

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford celebrates after his go-ahead touchdown to wide receiver Cooper Kupp.

Amid the blaring of blue and gold horns, on a super-sized Sunday fit for an ascension, the Los Angeles sports heavens just got a little more crowded.

Make room for the Rams.

Move over Lakers, back up Dodgers, everybody clear space for the oldest of friends, the newest of heroes, the prodigal sons turned Super Bowl champions.

Six years after returning to Los Angeles with helmet in hand, the Rams raised those helmets to the sky Sunday with a 23-20 victory over Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at Sofi Stadium.

They won it after blowing an early 10-point lead and stumbling into a 10-point deficit. They won by coming back in the fourth quarter on a 79-yard, game-winning touchdown drive featuring the two stars who have carried them all season — quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Cooper Kupp.

Matthew Stafford and Rams rally to beat Bengals for first L.A. Super Bowl title

Rams defensive end Aaron Donald celebrates his tackle of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.

Throughout their all-in, boom-or-bust season, Rams coach Sean McVay and his players stuck with a common refrain.

During winning and losing streaks, after comeback victories and embarrassing defeats, they opined that they were authoring their own story, and they intended to finish with a flourish.

On Sunday, in Super Bowl LVI they penned the final chapter.

And it was a pulsating finish.

The Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 before 70,048 at SoFi Stadium to win the first Super Bowl title in Los Angeles Rams history.

Rams win Super Bowl LVI, 23-20 win over Cincinnati Bengals

For the second time in their history, and the first while located in Los Angeles, the Rams are Super Bowl champions, knocking off the Cincinnati Bengals with a dramatic 23-20 win in Super Bowl LVI.

The winning score came in the final minutes, with Matthew Stafford finding Cooper Kupp for a go-ahead one-yard touchdown with 1:25 to play.

After leading 13-3 early in the game on touchdown catches from Odell Beckham Jr. and Kupp, the Rams gave up 17 straight points to the Bengals between the second and third quarters.

Joe Mixon threw a trick-play touchdown pass late in the second quarter. Tee Higgins hauled in a 75-yard touchdown catch on the first play of the second half. And the Bengals added a field goal after Stafford threw his second interception of the game on the ensuing drive.

The Rams got back within four with a field goal later in the third quarter. But without Beckham Jr., who left the game before halftime with a scary-looking knee injury, or any consistent production in the running game, the offense looked out of sorts, going three-and-out on three straight drives.

However, they came to life again late, orchestrating a 75-yard scoring drive at the end to become the second team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl in their home building.

Bengals turn the ball over on downs

After the Rams went ahead, the Bengals got to midfield before turning the ball over on downs, effectively ending the game.

The Rams are 39 seconds away from winning Super Bowl LVI.

Rams retake the lead, 23-20, on a Cooper Kupp touchdown catch

With under two minutes to play, the Rams have retaken the lead.

On second and goal from the one-yard line, Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp connected for a go-ahead touchdown on a back shoulder fade, putting the Rams back in front 23-20 with 1:25 to play in regulation.

It was the end of a methodical 15-play, 75 yard drive that gives the Rams the lead for the first time since the start of the second half.

Prior to the score, the Rams had to convert a fourth and one from deep in their own territory and a third and two near midfield.

Facing another third down at the Bengals eight-yard line, the Rams got a reprieve thanks to a Bengals defensive holding penalty.

On the next play, Matthew Stafford connected with Kupp in the end zone for what initially seemed like a go-ahead touchdown, only for offsetting penalties by both teams to wipe away the down.

But finally, after another Bengals holding call put the ball at the one-yard line, the Rams punched it in, leaving just 85 seconds left for the Bengals to try and come back.

When was the last time the Super Bowl went into overtime?

Of the first 55 Super Bowls, only one went into overtime, the New England Patriots’ 34-28 comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

The Falcons famously held a 28-3 lead late in the third quarter before the Patriots, three-point favorites, scored three touchdowns and a field goal on their final four drives of regulation to tie the score 28-28.

New England won the overtime coin flip and easily moved down the field, covering 75 yards in eight plays, the last of which was a two-yard touchdown by running back James White, his third of the game. Under the NFL’s overtime rules, a touchdown on the opening drive automatically ends a game. This has become a great source of controversy in recent years, especially in the 2022 postseason.

Rams defense applying pressure, but offense struggling without Odell Beckham Jr.

Rams running back Cam Akers is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson.

The Rams’ defense forced a third straight punt from the Bengals after once again burying Joe Burrow with pressure.

The unit has six sacks this half — including two from Von Miller, who has tied a Super Bowl record with 4 1/2 career sacks in the game — and seven in the game (Burrow appeared to be limping after the latest sack but is staying in the game).

The Rams’ offense, however, continues to struggle, going three-and-out for their third consecutive possession since the failed trick play led to a field goal.

With 9:58 to go, the Bengals are getting the ball back leading 20-16.

Odell Beckham Jr. exits Super Bowl with knee injury, will not return

Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is attended to by trainers after sustaining a knee injury.

With the clock ticking down in Sunday’s Super Bowl, the Rams are playing without one of the best playmakers.

Sprinting across the middle of the field, star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. — who’d come up huge already with a leaping touchdown grab and another long catch — prepared to haul in a short pass from Matthew Stafford. The ball went careening off his fingertips, however, as his left knee appeared to buckle.

Bengals lead Rams 20-16 entering fourth quarter

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) leaves the field

The Rams settled down after allowing 10 quick points to begin the third quarter, but still trail entering the fourth.

The Rams defense has forced two straight punts, the first time the Bengals have punted on consecutive drives tonight, and L.A. currently has the ball just across midfield. But its offense hasn’t looked the same since the knee injury to Odell Beckham Jr., whom the team has officially ruled out for the rest of the game.

Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. falls after injuring his knee during the first half of Super Bowl LVI.

With 15 minutes to play, it remains 20-16 Bengals.

Dr. Dre leads giant win for hip-hop in electrifying, ambitious Super Bowl halftime show

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg perform during the Super Bowl LVI halftime show at SoFi Stadium.

Hip-hop finally came to the Super Bowl on Sunday when Dr. Dre led a team of his closest collaborators in a festive, funky, thoroughly trunk-rattling halftime show.

Decades into the genre’s domination of pop music — but not too soon for the famously conservative National Football League — Dre took over the field at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium, close to where he grew up in Compton, alongside Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar for a nearly 14-minute spectacle that included some of the biggest rap hits of the last 30 years. 50 Cent, who hadn’t been announced in advance, also showed up to do his indelible “In Da Club,” which Dre co-produced.

The show, which came midway through the Los Angeles Rams’ hometown championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals, was a proud celebration of Black L.A. from the get-go, playing out on a set done up with architectural replicas of Tam’s Burgers, Randy’s Donuts and the Compton courthouse.

Rams get a field goal, but still trail 20-16 after failed trick play

After a couple of key first-down conversions got the Rams inside the Bengals’ 25-yard line, Sean McVay dialed up a trick play their third third-down of the drive.

On third and 5, the Rams did a double reverse that ended with Cooper Kupp trying to throw a pass to quarterback Matthew Stafford out of the backfield. Stafford was open in the flat, but Kupp missed him, forcing the Rams to settle for a field goal.

It’s now 20-16 Bengals with 5:58 left in the third quarter.

Bengals get interception, add a field goal to make it 20-13

Things are going from bad to worse for the Rams to begin the third quarter.

After the Bengals’ go-ahead touchdown, the Rams turned the ball over on the first play of their ensuing drive when Matthew Stafford’s pass hit off the hands of receiver Ben Skowronek and was picked off by Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.

That set the Bengals up for another score, as kicker Evan McPherson nailed a 38-yard field goal to make it 20-13.

The Bengals might have found the end zone on the drive — which had been extended by Joe Burrow’s fourth-down scramble earlier in the possession — if not for an Aaron Donald sack with the Bengals at the Rams’ 11-yard line.

Still, that’s now 17 unanswered points from the Bengals, whose fans are making all the noise in SoFi Stadium with 10:15 to play in the third quarter.

Photos: Celebrities show up in force for Rams-Bengals match-up in Super Bowl LVI

There’s nothing like a big event in L.A.

And Super Bowl LVI featuring the Los Angeles Rams playing in their home stadium brought out the stars.

A masked man holds up his cellphone to show a photo on its screen.
Two women and a man have a group hug.
Two women seated at a football game.
A serious-looking man with a black face mask under his chin.
A smiling woman in a blue shirt sits at field level at a football game.
A hooded man dressed entirely in black next to two men in colorful shirts at a football game.

Bengals take 17-13 lead on first play of second half

Cincinnati Bengals celebrate after a touchdown

The second half is underway … and the Bengals have taken the lead.

On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Joe Burrow connected with Tee Higgins for a 75-yard touchdown pass that puts the Bengals in front for the first time today, 17-13.

Burrow rolled out of the pocket and seemed to have a running lane, but instead aired a pass deep down the sideline for Higgins, who hit the brakes to free himself from Jalen Ramsey before running the ball to the house.

Ramsey, whose facemask appeared to be grabbed by Higgins during the play, looked for an offensive pass interference flag, but none came. Instead, the momentum has shifted moments into the third quarter.

Photos: Rams vs. Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium

The Rams lead the Bengals 13-10 at halftime in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

Here’s a look at some of the best photos of the game so far from the Los Angeles Times’ team of photographers at the stadium.

 Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is tended to after being injured.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford avoids a tackle in first quarter.
 Rams defenders gang tackle Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon.
Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase makes a one-handed catch while defended by Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
 Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. pulls in a touchdown reception.
Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (22) tackles Rams running back Cam Akers on a sweep.

SoFi Stadium may have the Super Bowl, but Inglewood Park Cemetery has the legends

Etta James' marker at Inglewood Cemetery, final resting place to a number of famous singers and actors.

A phalanx of black Escalades stuttered down Prairie Avenue, their police escorts bleating and blaring, but Big Mama Thornton paid them no mind.

Tour buses belched and hooted west on Florence and Manchester, shimmying their way to SoFi Stadium, but Etta James, Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald remained unperturbed. And if Chet Baker, Billy Preston and T-Bone Walker were at all impressed by the hullabaloo of Super Bowl LVI, they did not say.

The shadows of aircraft, so large they count as shade on a hot day, act as constant reminder that SoFi’s biggest and most demanding neighbor is LAX. But far closer than that bustling tangle of humanity is Inglewood Park Cemetery.

Mary J. Blige is — really, seriously, finally — done with drama (for now)

Mary J. Blige answers a question during a news conference on Thursday.

When Mary J. Blige turned 50 last year, the best birthday present she received didn’t come from a friend or a colleague or a member of her family.

“Man, the best present was the one I got me,” the R&B star says with a laugh, recalling a lavish trip to Turks and Caicos that she documented with a series of striking swimsuit photos that quickly went viral online. “I remember I was just playing music all day long — ‘Alright’ by Kendrick [Lamar] — and me and my girlfriends were bouncing and dancing and having a good time.

“But really I was just happy that I made it to 50. I cried happy tears.”

What is the record of teams who led at halftime of the Super Bowl?

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, top, is tacked during the first half.

Teams that have taken a halftime lead at the Super Bowl are 40-11 (four Super Bowls have been tied at the half). Teams who have led by three points or fewer at the half, however, are 4-5.

In their four previous Super Bowls, in Los Angeles and St. Louis, the Rams — who led the Cincinnati Bengals 13-10 at halftime of Super Bowl 56 — have led in two Super Bowls, ultimately losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1980 and defeating the Tennessee Titans in 2000. They trailed in their two other Super Bowl trips, losing to the Patriots both times, in 2002 and 2019.

Halftime stat check: Little separating Rams, Bengals through two quarters

Snoop Dogg, performs during halftime of the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium

As Dr. Dre and company take the stage for the Super Bowl halftime show, here are a couple notable stats from the first 30 minutes.

Matthew Stafford started the game well, completing 12 of 18 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. He did throw one interception, but it was on a third and long on a deep pass into the Cincinnati end zone.

Stafford also spread the ball around, finding seven different receivers. Odell Beckham Jr. led the way with 52 yards and a touchdown, but his status for the second half is in question after exiting the game with a knee injury.

Cooper Kupp had three grabs for 40 yards and a touchdown.

The Rams’ running game wasn’t nearly as effective, amassing just 26 yards on 12 carries.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow also had a strong first half. He completed 12 of 18 throws for 114 yards — most of them going to Ja’Marr Chase (three catches, 62 yards), Tee Higgins (three catches, 25 yards) and Tyler Boyd (three catches, 23 yards).

Running back Joe Mixon ran the ball seven times for 40 yards and also threw a touchdown pass on a trick play late in the second quarter that got the Bengals back within three points.

Most of the clubs’ team stats were close to equal. The Rams had 184 total yards, the Bengals 155. The Rams had eight first downs, the Bengals nine. And the Rams possessed the ball for only 2:20 longer than Cincinnati.

The biggest difference so far: The Bengals had to settle for a field goal on one of their trips to the red zone. The Rams punched it in each time they got close (though they did miss an extra point).

The Bengals will get the ball first in the second half.

Rams lead 13-10 at halftime

The Bengals couldn’t take advantage of Matthew Stafford’s interception, instead forced to punt after Leonard Floyd recorded the Rams’ first sack of the game.

The Rams got the ball back on their own 41-yard line with 30 seconds remaining, but couldn’t get into field-goal range before halftime.

At the break, the Rams lead 13-10.

Odell Beckham Jr. exits Super Bowl with knee injury, will not return

Rams and Bengals players kneel as Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is attended to by trainers.

With the clock ticking down in Sunday’s Super Bowl, the Rams will be without one of their top playmakers the rest of the way.

  Looking back at Bengals’ first two Super Bowl appearances

Sprinting across the middle of the field, star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. — who’d come up huge already with a leaping touchdown grab and another long catch — prepared to haul in a short pass from Matthew Stafford. The ball went careening off his fingertips, however, as his left knee appeared to buckle.

Matthew Stafford pass picked off in end zone

Cincinnati Bengals free safety Jessie Bates (30) catches an interception

Despite an apparent knee injury to Odell Beckham Jr., the Rams got across midfield again before Matthew Stafford made his first mistake of the game, tossing an interception on a long pass into the end zone.

On a third and 14 from the Bengals’ 43-yard line, Stafford scrambled to his left and tried to hit Van Jefferson on a deep throw, but the pass was cut off by Jessie Bates III. It was Stafford’s second interception of the playoffs, though it effectively amounted to no more than an arm punt.

The Bengals were assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during the celebration, so they’ll only start from their 10 on the other side of the two-minute warning.

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation remade the Super Bowl halftime show, but NFL’s record on race casts long shadow

The team behind the Super Bowl halftime show at SoFi Stadium.

The paint was still wet on the field at SoFi Stadium as Desiree Perez strode toward the 50-yard line, a pair of ringing-and-dinging smartphones tucked inside her boxy leather handbag.

Perez, the chief executive of Roc Nation, superstar rapper Jay-Z’s wide-ranging entertainment firm, had dropped in at the Inglewood stadium last week as part of preparation for the Super Bowl halftime show her company is producing for Sunday’s game — an all-star hip-hop blowout featuring Dr. Dre, who helped pioneer West Coast rap while coming up in nearby Compton, along with Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar.

It was just past 8 a.m., but already there were set pieces to approve, musical mixes to hear, sight lines to investigate — and, as one NFL rep gently reminded Perez, freshly sprayed turf to avoid spiking with her stiletto heels.

Bengals score on trick play, cut Rams lead to 13-10

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins catches a touchdown pass in front of Rams safety Nick Scott.

Just when it looked like the Rams were gaining control of the game, the Bengals used a trick play to find the end zone for the first time today.

On second and goal from the Rams’ six-yard line, running back Joe Mixon took a pitch from quarterback Joe Burrow and pulled up to throw, finding Tee Higgins in the corner of the end zone to cut the Rams’ lead to 13-10.

It capped a much-needed 12-play, 75-yard drive that included a long run by Mixon and key third-down receptions by Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase is tackled by Rams safety Nick Scot.

The Rams are getting the ball back with 5:47 remaining in the second quarter.

Rams lead 13-3 after Cooper Kupp touchdown grab

Inglewood, CA - February 13: Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9)

The Rams opened the second quarter with their best possession of the game, going 75 yards on a six-play drive that was capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp.

The Rams only got six points, after holder Johnny Hekker dropped the ball on the extra point, but still extended their lead to 13-3 with 12:51 to play before halftime.

Stafford is already 9 for 10 with 127 yards and two touchdowns. Kupp has 31 yards on two catches. And Odell Beckham Jr, who had a key 35-yard reception on a third and 11 earlier in the drive, has 52 yards on two grabs.

Two Rams fans had a lot riding on Odell Beckham Jr. scoring game’s first TD

Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. makes his way to the field during pregame warmups before Super Bowl LVI.

When Odell Beckham Jr. hauled in the game’s first touchdown, Joey Keenan and Maguire Kelly erupted in joy — more so than the other Rams fans surrounding them. The reason, the two Florida State graduate students explained, was that they’d both bet on Beckham scoring the first touchdown. Keenan won $140, Kelly won $70.

“That was a euphoric experience, an out-of-body experience,” Kelly said.

Keenan, who grew up in West Hills, said he never would have believed that a Los Angeles team would be playing in the first Super Bowl hosted by the city in nearly 30 years.

“We just got the team five, six years ago — I never would have thought we’d be here,” he said. “But you know what, some dreams do come true.”

Keenan and Kelly, a Jacksonville resident, were at the Super Bowl with other students from Florida State’s sports management program. Tara Coffen, a Pasadena native, organized the trip with about 20 students.

Ja’Marr Chase makes big catch, but Bengals settle for field goal

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase makes a catch as Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey defends

After the Rams took the lead, the Bengals had a chance to respond with a touchdown of their own late in the first quarter thanks to a terrific, 46-yard catch from star receiver Ja’Marr Chase that put them in the red zone.

The Bengals’ drive stalled after that, though, with Joe Burrow throwing three straight incompletions from the 11-yard line and forcing his team to settle for a field goal.

It’s now 7-3 Rams at the end of the first quarter.

Matthew Stafford is the first L.A. Rams quarterback to throw a Super Bowl touchdown

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford drops back to pass against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Matthew Stafford is not the first Rams quarterback to throw a touchdown in Super Bowl history.

Matthew Stafford, however, became the first Los Angeles Rams quarterback to throw a touchdown in the Super Bowl when he connected with Odell Beckham Jr. on a 17-yard strike in the first quarter of Super Bowl LVI.

Rams lead 7-0 on Odell Beckham Jr. touchdown catch

Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. pulls in a touchdown pass in front of Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton.

Gifted with great field position following the Bengals’ turnover on downs, the Rams marched straight down the field to open the scoring with a touchdown.

After a 20-yard Cooper Kupp catch-and-run helped the Rams get into the red zone, Matthew Stafford floated a perfect pass to Odell Beckham Jr. in the corner of the end zone for a 17-yard score.

It marks the first passing touchdown in Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl history and gives them a 7-0 lead with 6:22 remaining in the first quarter.

Bengals turn the ball over on downs

Rams head coach Sean McVay congratulates defensive end Aaron Donald during the first half of Super Bowl LVI.

It didn’t take long to get the game’s first big coaching decision. And it backfired on Zac Taylor.

With his team facing a fourth and 1 from midfield on its opening drive — following a Rams punt to begin the game — the Bengals coach elected to keep him on the team and go for it.

Quarterback Joe Burrow’s pass, however, was broken up by linebacker Ernest Jones, forcing a turnover on downs that gives the Rams the ball in great field position.

Rams and Bengals take the field; Rams will get ball first

The Rams and Bengals are on the field for Super Bowl LVI.

As part of the introduction of the two squads, Hall of Fame former Rams offensive lineman Orlando Pace and legendary Bengals running back Ickey Woods were shown on the videoboard. To the delight of Bengals fans, Woods did his famous “Ickey Shuffle” football spike.

Perhaps the one time today both fans will cheer together: When current Rams offensive lineman and former Bengals player Andrew Whitworth was recognized moments later for winning the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

After that, Mickey Guyton sang the national anthem to conclude the pregame festivities.

The Bengals won the coin toss (the Rams, as the designated road team, picked tails but it was heads) and deferred to the second half. The Rams will begin the game with the ball.

Bengals fans making noise at SoFi Stadium as kickoff nears

A Cincinnati Bengals fan walks to his seat before Super Bowl LVI begins.

Less than an hour from kickoff, the stands at SoFi Stadium are almost halfway full. And so far, there is no shortage of black and orange in attendance.

With their team making its first Super Bowl appearance in more than 30 years, Bengals fans have shown up in force at the Rams’ home stadium and roared to life just at the sight of their players taking the field for warmups.

In both the tailgate lots and the stadium concourses, chants of “Who Dey!” have also echoed around Inglewood throughout the afternoon.

It won’t be a comforting sight for Rams fans, who were drowned out at home in Week 18 by visiting San Francisco 49ers fans.

Aaron Donald said there’s a ‘strong possibility’ he’ll retire if Rams win Super Bowl

Rams defensive end Aaron Donald participates in a practice drill Friday in Thousand Oaks.

Aaron Donald told former player Rodney Harrison that if the Rams win the Super Bowl, he might retire.

The Rams All-Pro defensive tackle was interviewed by Harrison for a 12-minute pregame segment on NBC. After the interview aired Sunday, Harrison said that Donald told him off the air that he would consider retirement — if the Rams win.

Harrison was asked by Jac Collinsworth on the air what Donald thinks about his legacy. Harrison answered that Donald doesn’t want to be a defender that accomplished so many individual things but never won a Super Bowl.

Super Bowl strategy: Rams’ primary objective for secondary is to tackle Bengals receivers

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase warms up before Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.

With the fifth pick of the 2021 NFL draft, Cincinnati selects …

Back in April, a lot of experts thought the Bengals would go offensive lineman, specifically Penei Sewell.

Instead, they took wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, bolstering a group that already featured Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Nearly 1,500 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns and a Super Bowl berth later, no one is debating the decision to add Chase any longer.

With Joe Burrow as distributor, Cincinnati finished seventh in the NFL in passing offense and eighth in points during the regular season.

Who is the SoFi Stadium architect?

The view from the lake at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Feb. 9 as workers make last-minute preparations for Super Bowl LVI.

SoFi Stadium began allowing fans into the site last spring, but Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI, with an expected global viewership of more than 145 million, is in many ways the venue’s true debut. And what a debut it will be.

The 3.1-million-square-foot $5-billion arena has plenty of superlatives attached to it. It’s the largest stadium in the NFL. It’s the league’s first indoor-outdoor stadium. And the stands’ steep vertical pitch allows fans to get startlingly close to the action. Hell, if you bathe in money and can afford one of the field cabanas, you could very well have a defensive lineman land in your beer.

Bengals’ Joe Mixon is weapon the Rams must load up to stop

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon runs through the Kansas City Chiefs defense.

Cincinnati had one Pro Bowl player in its backfield this season, and that player wasn’t Joe Burrow.

Instead, it was another Joe — Joe Mixon — who finished third in yards rushing (1,205) and fourth in rushing touchdowns (13) in the NFL.

“It’s heartwarming, honestly,” Mixon said this week about his season. “I truly feel like I’m living in a movie right now.”

The only question remaining is this: Can Mixon turn the game Sunday into a horror show for the Rams?

Super Bowl strategy: Behind weak Bengals line, Joe Burrow must be in rush vs. Rams

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow warms up at SoFi Stadium before Super Bowl LVI on Sunday.

Isaiah Prince will appear in his 23rd career NFL game — including the playoffs — on Sunday in Super Bowl LVI.

None of the first 22 included Aaron Donald.

“He plays with that aggression, that passion,” Cincinnati’s 24-year-old right tackle said. “His talent. His technique. His hands. He’s always playing hard. It’s what everybody speaks about.”

At this stage, it is pretty safe to assume that imagining what it’s like to play against Donald, the Rams’ all-universe defensive tackle, is nothing like actually playing against him.

Super Bowl-bound Bengals have taken the city of Cincinnati by storm

Jim Foster (center, with glasses) cheers on his Cincinnati Bengals.

He sat in the bar he owns, the one just down the street from Paul Brown Stadium, the one that opened nearly 11 years ago but never has been more perfectly named than now.

The Holy Grail.

Jim Moehring first described the victory that caused him to tear up, then the one that netted his bar a game ball, and finally the triumph that stunk of sweet cigar smoke.

Three weeks. Three wins. One topic.

Super Bowl fans and merchants get fired up outside SoFi Stadium

Rams and Bengals fans stand outside of SoFi Stadium before the start of Super Bowl LVI on Sunday.

Sunday afternoon may be all about football, but Super Bowl Sunday morning was all about commerce.

On the streets leading up to SoFi Stadium, where the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals take to the field at 3:30 PST, intrepid entrepreneurs held up cardboard signs hawking parking spots for $200. And $250. And $400. And, for the truly desperate, $450.

Residents stood outside their homes selling tacos for $10, Fireball shots for $5, popcorn, snacks, even phone chargers. Warned one vendor voice of doom: “Your phone’s gonna die, I promise.”

Disinformation, however, was free. A woman in a T-shirt proclaiming, “Where there is risk there must be choice,” brandished a big, black sign that said, “COVID-19 vaccines have no long term safety data.”

Have the Cincinnati Bengals ever won a Super Bowl?

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow wearing sunglasses.

When the San Francisco 49ers held a 10-point lead over the Los Angeles Rams in the second half of the NFC Championship game on Jan. 30, it appeared the Cincinnati Bengals were headed for a rare triple: a third Super Bowl showdown against the 49ers.

In 1982 the Bengals and 49ers, both coming off losing seasons, were playing in their first Super Bowl. Each team had reached the Super Bowl by winning memorable conference championships games, one famous for the cold, the other for The Catch (called by Vin Scully). In the Super Bowl the Bengals fell behind 20-0 at the half to the Joe Montana-led 49ers before rallying behind three Ken Anderson touchdowns in the second half of a 26-21 loss.

Scorching Super Bowl might get slight reprieve as Santa Ana winds die down, heat tempers

Fans gather outside SoFi Stadium before the start of Super Bowl LVI on Sunday.

The scorching Super Bowl in Inglewood could get a bit of a reprieve.

This morning Santa Ana winds have died, and by Super Bowl game time at 3:30 pm. an 8-10 mph westerly wind should start cooling things.

“A typical sea breeze kind of wind,” said David Sweet, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Temperatures at kickoff will be about 80 degrees, falling to 68 by the end of the game, while humidity will rise to 40% in the evening, Sweet said.

Rams fanatic, 91, shows deep roots Super Bowl team has in Los Angeles

Lewis Lazarus, 91, attends a game at SoFi Stadium.

Lewis Lazarus would go to the game, but he doesn’t get around so well anymore.

“Three days ago, I started using a cane and it already bugs the hell out me,” he said. “I want to throw that cane in the ocean.”

He would watch the game on television with his immediate family, but his parents have passed, his sister has passed, his son has passed, and he no longer has any living relatives.

“I guess the Rams are the last family I have,” he said.

Like all the most longtime of Los Angeles Rams fans — an ancient and resilient bunch unmatched in this city’s sports landscape — the 91-year-old Lazarus will watch Super Bowl LVI on Sunday between the Rams and Cincinnati Bengals surrounded mostly by memories and dreams.

How long will Mickey Guyton take to sing the Super Bowl national anthem? Why the answer is trending

Country singer Mickey Guyton

Country superstar Mickey Guyton is performing the national anthem at this year’s Super Bowl, and there’s more than one reason viewers will be tuning in to the trailblazing singer-songwriter‘s powerful take on “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The length of the national anthem — how long Guyton’s version will last — is the subject of many sports wagers Sunday.

In the last 15 years, piano man Billy Joel has clocked the shortest national anthem performance at 1 minute and 30 seconds; pop superstar Alicia Keys delivered the longest rendition at 2 minutes and 35 seconds, according to statistics provided by TheScore.com. On average, Super Bowl national anthems tend to go for 1 minute and 56 seconds. Before the game, the betting line set Guyton’s over-under at 1 minute and 38 seconds, according to CBS News.

Photos: Fans get their game face on as Rams, Bengals meet in Super Bowl LVI

Game on.

For the second year in a row, a team playing in the Super Bowl gets to play in its own stadium.

Advantage: fans.

Fans sit on a sign for Super Bowl LVI outside of SoFi Stadium
Football fans in colorful hats watch players warm up on the field before Super Bowl LVI game
Rams and Bengals fans sport their team's colors before Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

Do players get extra money for playing in and winning the Super Bowl?

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow stretches before a team practice session.

According to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, players can line their pockets with a few extra thousand depending on if their side hoists the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday.

Players on the winning team will receive $150,000, while the losers will get $75,000. In stark defiance of the Notorious B.I.G.’s famous 1997 hit, more money actually represents fewer problems for players Sunday.

Rams fan believes Super Bowl win will put team on the L.A. map

A Rams fan looks over the field before the start of Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.

Nelson Quintanilla bought his ticket to the Super Bowl in August. A Rams fan, Quintanilla, 52, hoped his team would be playing but planned to go whether they made it or not. That they’re competing for a title Sunday made it all that sweeter, he said.

It’s critical that the Rams win Sunday, Quintanilla said. He’s tired of seeing the stands at SoFi Stadium half-filled with fans of the visiting team.

When Quintanilla bought his ticket in August, it cost $8,500, he said, compared with the $3,500 his cousin paid for a ticket this weekend. The drop in price, he said, underscores the apparent indifference of many Angelenos when it comes to supporting the hometown team.

  What has happened in the NFL since the last time the Bengals went to the Super Bowl?

But a Rams win on Sunday, he said, would grow its fan base and win the allegiance of a city that values results over anything else.

“L.A. is about winning. The Kings, the Lakers, the Clippers — they have to be on top,” he said.

Quintanilla took an Uber Black from Glendale to SoFi, paying $56, he said. The ride took just 25 minutes, but “the walk to get in took longer than the ride,” he said.

“It’s beautiful,” he said, standing in front of the lake outside SoFi Stadium, surrounded by crowds of people who, like him, were sporting blue and gold. “Perfect weather. Perfect people.”

Why are the Rams the road team vs. Bengals in Super Bowl LVI?

Rams team takes the field on Jan. 30.

That’s right. Time for the Cincinnati Bengals to toe their familiar turf at SoFi Stadium in front of the hometown Los Angeles fans, as the visiting Rams march in.

Wait … what?

The Rams, despite playing Sunday’s Super Bowl on their home field, are not officially the home team. That honor would go to the Bengals, because the NFL has fun quirks.

‘Patriotism is inclusion’: Mickey Guyton on performing the national anthem at the Super Bowl

Mickey Guyton strikes a pose.

Mickey Guyton is known to most as the country singer who broke barriers with her Grammy-nominated song “Black Like Me,” and for her career dedicated to diversifying the overwhelmingly white and male genre. But, in high school back in Texas, she was known as the “national anthem girl.”

“The national anthem is my song,” says Guyton, 38, who will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Sunday’s Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. “The first time I sung it was at a basketball game when I was 13, and I kept my eyes closed the whole time. But then they asked me to sing at every game after that.”

Guyton’s musical ambitions began with the anthem, in fact: it was watching LeAnn Rimes belt the song, as a little girl at a baseball game, that hooked Guyton into country music, and it was listening to Whitney Houston’s famous interpretation that showed her that Black women could not only succeed in entertainment but be the best in the game.

Inglewood residents taking in the Super Bowl experience with good food and optimism

Less than a block away from the stadium along East Arbor Vitae, two Inglewood residents sat comfortably in the shade outside of their home.

Next door, their neighbors put out a wooden table to watch the Super Bowl game on their flat-screen TV.

The aroma of Jerk chicken and tacos masked the smell of gasoline exhaust of shuttles driving up and down the street to transport the media.

“Ooooh! You drew me here!” a women working the Super Bowl event told the man grilling chicken.

“It’s smelling good up in here!” said a group of women wearing Rams jerseys as they headed for SoFi Stadium.

Locals cruised on bicycles up and down the street designated to funnel media into the stadium.

Lisa Smith couldn’t get a ticket to the big game, but she wasn’t missing out on today’s festivities. The way her neighbors were celebrating, she felt like she right in the middle of it.

“Good energy,” she said. “The weather plays a big part.”

She sat outside with January, who declined to give her last name. They sat on lawn chairs and sold water bottles for $2.

“Cincinnati turned out,” said Smith, who has lived in the area for 15 years. “I’ve seen more of them walk by than Rams.”

Although she’s rooting for L.A., she said the turnout for Cincinnati is good news for the city.

“The big turnout means more money for the city,” she said.

Ready to cheer on the Bengals and … Chargers?

Alida Campbell and son PJ Campbell stand outside SoFi Stadium before Super Bowl LVI on Sunday.

Alida Campbell, 49, came with her 19-year-old son, PJ Campbell. Both of them are Huntington Beach residents, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from Alida’s Bengals jersey.

“I’ve been a fan for 25 years,” she said, drawn to what she called the underdog team. “I’ve waited for this day for 25 years.”

She attended every playoff game, even going to Nashville alone.

“It would be bad luck to not come to the Super Bowl, right? Because I was at every game,” she said.

PJ, however, wore a Chargers jersey. He wanted to wear it “because it’s my stadium.”

“I’ve always messed around with her about the Chargers being the better team,” he said. “I realized this year that the Bengals actually had a good shot of coming all the way here.”

On the shuttle ride to the stadium, he told his mom, “Who’d have thought we’d be coming to the Super Bowl in L.A. for a Bengals game.”

“It’s the year of the tiger,” she said, before using an oft-used phrase from Bengals fans: “Who Dey.”

Alida said she’s heard all the jokes about being a local cheering for who people call the “bungles.”

“I never wavered. This is my team.”

She even has a shirt that says, “This California girl is loyal to Cincinnati.”

“This means everything to me,” she said.

Rams eager to ‘finish this deal’ and win Super Bowl on home turf vs. Bengals

Rams coach Sean McVay stands on the field before a win over the Minnesota Vikings in December.

There could not be a more perfect scenario for the star-studded Rams.

Six years after returning from St. Louis, they fulfilled a mandate to play in Super Bowl LVI at owner Stan Kroenke’s $5-billion SoFi Stadium. Coach Sean McVay and his team have spent two weeks preparing at their own practice facility — and sleeping in their own beds.

On Sunday, they will play the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals with an opportunity to celebrate a victory on their home turf.

All they must do is complete the final step and win.

“Just like any other Sunday — it just happens to be a Super Bowl and the biggest game of our lives,” Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said, adding, “One last game to let everything hang out and find a way to win …. Couldn’t write it no better.”

Have the Los Angeles Rams ever won a Super Bowl?

The Rams have won a Super Bowl.

The Los Angeles Rams, however, have yet to win a Super Bowl.

During the franchise’s 22-year L.A. sabbatical, the Rams went to two Super Bowls in St. Louis, winning the 2000 title on a Mike Jones tackle of the Titans’ Kevin Dyson at the one as time expired, and losing two years later to the Patriots on Adam Vinatieri’s field goal as time expired.

Bengals fans showing up in force at SoFi Stadium

Bengals fans were out in full force at the Player’s Tailgate event at SoFi Stadium, their cheers slightly muffling those of Rams fans after a DJ’s call. Bunches of people dotted the venue’s red carpet, and shade from the sweltering sun was hard to find.

“Hot,” said Bengals fan Julie Wirtz when asked about her first impression of Los Angeles.

A Cincinnati resident, Wirtz was on a family vacation in Florida when she made a spur-of-the-moment decision to attend the game. Leaving her husband with their 1-month-old and 5-year-old children, she packed her Bengals jersey and hopped on a plane to watch her team in the big game.

“I left my family on the beach in Naples, Florida, boarded a plane last night and got in at 10 p.m.,” she said. “I stay till tomorrow morning when I board the plane hungover.”

The team America is rooting for in Super Bowl LVI according to Twitter is …

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.

The Cincinnati Bengals aren’t the favorites in Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup against the Rams, but according to Twitter, America is rooting for Joe Burrow to win the team’s first Lombardi Trophy.

BetOnline, a sports betting site, tracked tweets using geotagged keywords from fan hashtags used for each team in every state since Jan. 31. In order to count as a vote for the Rams or Bengals, the tweet had to contain a certain hashtag or hashtags. Hashtags such as #RamsHouse, #RamsNation and #GoRams were used to track votes for the Rams while #WhoDey, #RuleTheJungle and #RuleItAll were included for the Bengals.

The final score after nearly 200,000 tweets were tracked: Bengals-specific hashtags were used more than Rams hashtags in 33 states.

A U.S. map shows what Super Bowl team each state is rooting for.

With Rams full of star power, Leonard Floyd has been silent assassin on the edge

Rams linebacker Leonard Floyd celebrates the NFC Championship.

There are benefits to being overshadowed in the Rams’ defense by lineman Aaron Donald, a three-time NFL defensive player of the year, and outside linebacker Von Miller, a former Super Bowl most valuable player and the league’s active leader with 115½ career sacks.

“I don’t have to talk to the media as much — I don’t get all the attention they get,” edge rusher Leonard Floyd said on a video conference call. “It gives me peace, you know? I don’t have to do anything but play football, and that’s all I want to do. I don’t care for all the extras. I just want to line up and play.”

There was no avoiding the spotlight this week. The Rams play the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, and they’re counting on the 6-foot-4, 251-pound Floyd’s potentially game-wrecking combination of power and speed to play a key role in containing Cincinnati’s dynamic offense.

Fans arriving early to SoFi Stadium for Super Bowl LVI

The Super Bowl is hours away from kickoff, but that isn’t stopping legions of fans from showing up to SoFi Stadium in what probably can be best described as a smart move.

Getting into SoFi Stadium has proved to be a challenge even when the Rams are playing a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars, so the Super Bowl raises the potential of traffic delays around the stadium.

If you’re planning to attend the Super Bowl, you should probably be en route to the stadium. If you’re not, check out this guide to attending the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium before it’s too late.

Super Bowl 2022 parking and traffic will be fierce. Here’s how to handle them

Super Bowl merchandise: What happens to the losing team’s ‘champion’ apparel?

A T-shirt saying the Bengals beat the 49ers in 1989 is shown on eBay.

Call it the Schrödinger’s Hat paradox.

Right now, thousands of caps, T-shirts, sweatshirts and face masks proclaiming the Los Angeles Rams the next Super Bowl champion are sitting in boxes. A parallel pile of merchandise celebrates the victory of the Cincinnati Bengals.

If the Rams take home the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday, all that Bengals gear will instantly become unsellable, at least in the eyes of the NFL. If the Bengals manage to best the Rams in their own house, the Rams kit will transform into wearable lies as soon as the whistle blows. A cat’s life might not be at stake, as in the quantum mechanics thought experiment, but it does present a conundrum to L.A.’s sports retailers.

Either way, a nonprofit called Good360 is expecting a shipment next week.

Watch our ‘Hall of Farmer’ interview series with Carson Palmer, Terrell Davis and more

Hall of Farmer

Los Angeles Times Hall of Fame NFL writer Sam Farmer warmed subscribers up for Super Bowl LVI by hosting an in-depth series of conversations with NFL greats.

The 15 installments of the “Hall of Farmer” series feature interviews with Carson Palmer, Eric Dickerson, Jim Everett, Amy Trask, Jane Skinner Goodell, Terrell Davis and more. In addition to sharing their thoughts on the Rams versus Bengals Super Bowl matchup, they shared personal and, at times, emotional stories about their journeys to the NFL and relationship with the game.

Palmer entered Super Bowl Sunday with split allegiances, thriving in Los Angeles at USC before playing much of his NFL career for the Bengals and said he understood how much winning the Super Bowl would mean to both teams.

Carson Palmer

Los Angeles Times NFL Columnist Sam Farmer in conversation with legendary USC Trojan, former Cincinnati Bengal, and NFL All-Pro quarterback Carson Palmer.

Eric Dickerson

Go Rams, sure, but are you more stoked to see Dr. Dre? Here’s your Super Bowl halftime playlist

Photos of Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre in a colorful collage.

Thirty years after his smash 1992 album “The Chronic” made him a superstar — and established Los Angeles as a rap-music capital to rival New York — Dr. Dre will lead a hip-hop dream team in the halftime show at Super Bowl LVI.

Set for Sunday at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium, not far from where he grew up in Compton, the performance will put the producer, rapper and former N.W.A member together with four artists who span much of the length of his long career: Snoop Dogg, who helped Dre create the Southern California sound known as G-funk; Eminem, whom Dre signed to his Aftermath label; Mary J. Blige, the R&B singer and Oscar-nominated actress; and Kendrick Lamar, whose rise to voice-of-a-generation status involved an early Dre co-sign. In anticipation of the show, here’s a playlist compiling three essential songs by each act: a huge hit anyone is sure to know, a second track beloved by fans and a deep cut for further study.

Inglewood’s proposed $1.4-billion fix for SoFi Stadium’s traffic problems

Artist rendering of the proposed Inglewood rail stop.

Tens of thousands of fans attending the Super Bowl will clog streets and fill $1,000 parking spaces Sunday at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium, a scenario that is unlikely to please residents or visitors.

But imagine a train that could drop off fans right in front of the stadium — and is ready in time for the 2028 Olympics.

That’s the pitch Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. has made to legislators, transit officials and the governor over the last year as he tries to fund a $1.4-billion automated people mover. Butts sees the 1.8-mile line as the key piece needed to turn the working-class community of mostly Black and Latino residents into a thriving global entertainment and sports hub.

Too much star-power talk? Rams confident they are built to last

Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke talks to general manager Les Snead.

The Rams’ star power will be on full display Sunday when they play the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

Rams general manager Les Snead made sure of that by avidly collecting multiple high-profile players before, during and after the regular season.

In January 2021, Snead pulled off a blockbuster trade for star quarterback Matthew Stafford. Midway through the season, he traded for star outside linebacker Von Miller and signed star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. And on the eve of the playoffs, he helped coax star safety Eric Weddle out of retirement.

Whose House? L.A. Times/SurveyMonkey poll suggests Rams are winning over local fans

Rams and 49ers fans watch the NFC championship game at SoFi Stadium on Jan. 30.

Super Bowl week has provided a natural period of reflection for the Rams executives who moved the team from St. Louis back to Los Angeles in 2016.

“If you were born in Los Angeles after 1995, you did not grow up with a team,” Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said Monday. “If you moved to Los Angeles from another city after 1995, there was no team, so you probably kept your previous team. So now you have people who have moved here, generations who grew up here, and you all have this team. It’s something to rally behind.

“When you see the jerseys, the excitement, the car flags, you walk into a grocery store and see the displays for the big game and the Rams logo, it’s a great sense of pride for our organization. But it’s a reminder of how much work we have to do to continue to grow the next generation.”

An L.A. Times/SurveyMonkey poll conducted Feb. 1-7 among a national sample of 7,590 adults, including 1,659 Californians and 743 people who live in the Greater Los Angeles Area, confirmed Demoff’s anecdotal intuition — the Rams appear to have taken over L.A., yet there is plenty of work to do.

Plaschke: I dropped the ball, Rams did right thing by signing Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr. wears headphones

Super Bowl Week is famous for its insatiable appetites, unabashed gluttony and wolfish overconsumption.

Which would make this a pretty good time to eat my words.

Three of the most famous initials in sports has joined the Rams, with one slight adjustment required to fit the situation.


Those were the first two paragraphs appearing in this space on Nov. 11, shortly after the Rams signed Odell Beckham Jr.

He has since shown everyone exactly why.

He’s impactful. He’s inspirational. I’m an idiot.

How SoFi Stadium’s landscape designer is transforming Los Angeles’ urban grid

Imagine the Los Angeles that might exist if it weren’t encased in a concrete crust: Contours of soft earth rather than rigid asphalt. Aromas that evoke the herbal qualities of sage rather than acrid smog. An urban forest of shady sycamores instead of spindly utility poles.

Over a career that has spanned more than four decades, landscape designer Mia Lehrer has hammered away at those hard surfaces and, in countless places, replaced them with more hospitable landscapes. On a hillside overlooking downtown, for example, at the site of a former oil field that was once studded with oil wells, Vista Hermosa Natural Park now emerges from the dense urban grid like a riot of unsettled landscape.

  Cincinnati Bengals' Super Bowl XVI, XXIII stars: Where are they now?

How Joe Burrow’s hometown followed the quarterback into the ‘Who Dey’ army

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is cheered by adoring fans during a Super Bowl LVI rally in Cincinnati.

THE PLAINS, Ohio — He dribbled an imaginary basketball around the room before taking aim at a hoop only he could see.

The 6-year-old — in his unbridled, joyous world — was an NBA legend.

“LeBron James!” he squealed.

“That’s when it hit me,” said Nathan White, Joe Burrow’s offensive coordinator in high school, recounting watching his little boy, Sam. “For the next 15 years, on playgrounds and in backyards across this country, there are going to be little kids pretending to be Joe Burrow.

“You know, we like to say Joe’s just a kid from southeast Ohio. But he’s not anymore. He’s one of the mythical people in the NFL to a child. Of all this stuff happening right now, that’s what I can’t believe.”

For Inglewood, Super Bowl brings hopeful glow after years of stagnation and anxiety

A Rams fan with a yellow hat with blue horns on it

In the days counting down to Super Bowl LVI, James T. Butts Jr. has been busier than ever.

Much of the Inglewood mayor’s time is spent at City Hall in a stately conference room lined with framed newspaper clippings and trophy cases filled with mementos like a Moonman award presented to Butts by MTV when the Music Awards were at the Forum in 2014, and a WWE Championship Belt from 2019 when it was announced that WrestleMania would be held in the city.

Two large flat screens at either end play a slide show of Butts’ career highlights — photos of him with Rosa Parks and Barack Obama, and aerial shots of SoFi Stadium, where the Los Angeles Rams will play the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

In interview after interview, he repeats the message that Inglewood is open for business, that it’s safe and welcoming for visitors. He also wants people to know that “the Inglewood Renaissance” — the theme of a glossy 51-page advertiser paid for by the city and distributed last week — wasn’t merely dumb luck. He insists that landing an NFL franchise and a $5-billion sports palace was the result of a vision Butts says he conjured and carefully executed.

Where we love to eat near SoFi Stadium

Whether you’re headed to the Super Bowl on Sunday or to the next round of sold-out BTS concerts, SoFi Stadium, to the curious eater, is a pin worth dropping on your digital map as the center of an enriching array of restaurants and eateries.

Inglewood, Southwest L.A., Hawthorne and El Segundo and communities a bit farther afield have for decades been generating a culinary map that is uniquely reflective of the various cultures that converge here: African American, Mexican and Central American, Jamaican, Belizean, Japanese and others.

Whether you’re pining for a decent postgame meal or a pregame snack, this list of top options near SoFi Stadium, compiled by Times Food staff, editors and our local friends in the newsroom, should have you covered.

The best places to drink near SoFi Stadium

Perhaps you’re one of the lucky out-of-towners who scored a ticket to the Super Bowl — or maybe you’re a local looking for some new hangouts. Whatever brings you to the vicinity of SoFi Stadium, you’ll be able to find your drink of choice. Here’s a list of must-try tap rooms, coffeehouses and wine and tea bars.

Common Space

Hawthorne and its surrounding cities are increasingly becoming a hub of SoCal craft beer, and Common Space is a terrific beacon to start a local brewery crawl that might also include AleWorks across the way or Three Weavers in Inglewood. Common Space is welcoming and unpretentious; the tap room begins populating right at opening with people in workwear from nearby companies. A generous patio and open plan offer views of the outfit’s enormous steel tanks, where brewers make Common Space’s diverse mix of lagers, ales and IPAs. The Sonrisa, a Mexican-style lager with an ABV of 4.2%, is a great place to start. — D.H.

3411 W. El Segundo Blvd., Hawthorne, (424) 456-4355, commonspace.la

Matthew Stafford’s fearlessness is his super power and downfall, but Rams thrive on it

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford gives a thumbs up after participating in Super Bowl media day.

A person’s strengths and weaknesses often share a common origin or, as former Dodgers trainer and part-time philosopher Stan Conte once told me, “What makes you good also makes you suck.”

In the case of Matthew Stafford, it’s his fearlessness.

From the Rams’ secondary to the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive line, there are numerous question marks leading into Super Bowl LVI. The emotional state of the Rams’ quarterback shouldn’t be one of them.

For the better or worse, the Rams’ quarterback won’t be afraid.

“No moment’s too big for him,” coach Sean McVay said.

Before SoFi Stadium: Renderings of what might have been for the NFL in L.A.

Before the Rams and Chargers moved to Los Angeles and Stan Kroenke’s SoFi Stadium became reality, numerous groups had big dreams — and big renderings — to lure the NFL back after the Rams and Raiders left town in 1995. Here’s a look at some of them.

1998 Carson Hacienda

Rendering of the proposed Carson NFL stadium the Hacienda.

Michael Ovitz, the co-founder of Creative Artists Agency and former Walt Disney Co. president, wanted to build a stadium and shopping mall on the site of a former landfill in Carson. He dubbed the project “The Hacienda.” NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue took a helicopter tour of the site in March 1999, but the league ultimately awarded an expansion team to Houston, instead of L.A., later that year.

Podcast: Will the Super Bowl change Inglewood?

SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.

With more economic development and rents on the rise, Inglewood is struggling to meet its goal of encouraging more investment while trying to preserve one of California’s last remaining Black enclaves. Today, we examine this through the prism of SoFi Stadium, which is hosting the Super Bowl this Sunday.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: L.A. Times assistant managing editor Angel Jennings, L.A. Times reporter Donovan X. Ramsey, and Inglewood Mayor James Butts.

The 5 best places to be — architecturally speaking — at SoFi Stadium

SoFi Stadium in Inglewood is hosting Super Bowl LVI on Sunday.

If a stadium opens without crowds in the middle of a pandemic, does it make a sound?

Consider the curious case of SoFi Stadium. Inglewood’s $5-billion football stadium hosted its first game in September of 2020 — Rams vs. Cowboys; Rams won — without any fans in the stands due to the ravages of COVID-19. Times Sports columnist Bill Plaschke was at that first game and described the event as “strange and somber.”

With the advent of vaccines, SoFi Stadium began allowing fans into the stadium last spring. But Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, with an expected global viewership of more than 145 million, will in many regards mark the venue’s true debut.

And what a debut it will be. The 3.1-million-square-foot stadium has plenty of superlatives attached to it. It’s the largest stadium in the NFL. It’s the league’s first indoor-outdoor stadium. And the stands’ steep vertical pitch allows fans to get startlingly close to the action. Hell, if you bathe in money and can afford one of the field cabanas, you could very well have a defensive lineman land in your beer.

How the Bengals and Rams became Super Bowl contenders

Bengals and Rams players.

Did anyone think the Super Bowl would come down to the Rams and Cincinnati Bengals?

The hometown Rams haven’t been this hot since their Super Bowl LIII loss to the Patriots three years ago. Since their league-best 13-3 record during that season, they went 9-7 and 10-6. The Rams earned a wild-card playoff in 2020 but lost to the Packers in the divisional round.

The Bengals fared much worse. The team from the Queen City managed a league-worst 2-14 record only two seasons ago. Using the overall No. 1 draft pick in 2020, Cincinnati drafted Athens, Ohio, native Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from LSU. Burrow suffered a season-ending knee injury during Week 11 of his rookie year and the Bengals finished the season with a record of 4-11-1.

Touchdown or fumble? Check out the celebrities who star in the 2022 Super Bowl ads

Hannah Waddingham of “Ted Lasso” stars in a Super Bowl LVI commercial for Rakuten.

The stars are still coming out for the Super Bowl … well, at least for its commercials.

Advertisers, who pay a pretty penny for those coveted ad spots during the big game, are at it again with a constellation of stars making Super Bowl ad appearances.

And there are plenty of A-listers peddling goods and services this year, including Scarlett Johansson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eugene Levy and a “very hittable” Pete Davidson. Lindsay Lohan even tries to get back in the game with an ad for Planet Fitness.

NBC will broadcast Sunday’s football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.

How I sneaked into Super Bowl XVII (it was easy)

The billowy white Oxford shirt was a few sizes too large and opaque enough to hide the burgundy Washington jersey underneath.

It wasn’t an NFL jersey as we know them today, but a T-shirt with a white stripe on the elbow-length sleeves, an iron-on No. 44 on the back and RIGGINS across the shoulders. I was a 16-year-old junior at La Cañada High and a devoted Washington fan who would daydream in class and draw up plays that Joe Gibbs could run — as if I’d be lucky enough to meet that legendary coach.

That year, the 1982 season, Washington had made it to Super Bowl XVII at the Rose Bowl and would play the Miami Dolphins and their famed “Killer Bees” defense.

My friends and I hatched an audacious plan: sneaking into the Super Bowl.

Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval confident he’ll win Super Bowl bet with Eric Garcetti

Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval speaks during a news conference.

While the Los Angeles Rams are favored to beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, the mayor of the Ohio city warned that his favored team, just like his city, should not be counted out in Super Bowl LVI.

“Like this team, our city is young, diverse, ambitious and confident,” said Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval, in L.A. for the big game. “We’ve got Cincinnati swagger, and we’re going to win. We’re so confident that we have been talking a lot of trash.”

In the traditional Super Bowl bet between competing elected officials, Pureval and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti agreed that the losing city’s mayor will wear the victorious team’s jersey, while the winning city’s mayor will personally donate to the children’s hospital in the city that falls short.

The untold tale of the San Diego surfer who enabled last year’s Super Bowl streaker

Yuri Andrade runs on the field during the second half of last year’s Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

For many of the 96 million people who viewed last year’s lopsided Super Bowl, the most exciting moment came in the fourth quarter, when Yuri Andrade charged onto the field.

Wearing a bright pink women’s swimsuit, Andrade raced from the 40-yard line to the end zone before seven security guards tackled and pinned him. Along the way, he tugged his black shorts half off to reveal a thong wedged deep in his butt cheeks, a sight that left crowds roaring, ensuring his 15 minutes of infamy.

But Andrade was no lone exhibitionist. He couldn’t have done it without the trickery of two friends, one a part-time San Diego surfer and the other a Florida pornographer. And to be honest, the story does not end well for Andrade.

It began in a Tampa hotel room, as so many troubling stories do.

This Super Bowl prediction is Plaschke-proof: Rams will dominate Bengals

Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald celebrates with teammate Von Miller.

This one is so easy, even the worst annual prediction column in Super Bowl history can’t get it wrong.

This one is so basic, even the buzz that surrounds my 5-17 Super Bowl prediction record can be ignored.

Yes, I was once wrong 11 straight times. Yes, I once picked the Buffalo Bills for three straight years. Yes, in the last Super Bowl, I was as flattened as the Kansas City Chiefs.

No, I’m not very good at this.

But, yes, truly, this one is different, this one is simple, this one is Plaschke Proof.

Ultimate SoCal NFL sports bar guide: Find out where to watch your team

Find your sports bar guide

It’s easy to find Rams, Chargers and even Raiders fans in Southern California, but where can Packers, Cowboys, Patriots or Dolphins fans go to watch games in the Los Angeles area with other fans who share their passion?

Look no further than the Los Angeles Times’ ultimate SoCal NFL sports bar guide.

If you’re a fan of one of 31 out of the 32 NFL teams in the league (sorry Bucs fans, we couldn’t find a bar for you at the moment), then use this guide to find your tribe. You don’t need to be the only fan cheering when the Vikings score a touchdown or walk into a bar wearing a Jets jersey and see only others decked out in Giants gear. Cheer with fellow Chiefs and jeer with fellow Eagles.

How to keep cool during L.A.’s Super Bowl LVI heat advisory

A mashup of emoji related to heat and the Super Bowl

Welcome to California’s infamous heat waves, Super Bowl fans. Whether you live in L.A. or are visiting for the weekend, the next few days are expected to be unseasonably hot.

For those who are looking for ways to stay cool before or after the big game, we’ve scouted the best locations to find shade and have some poolside fun. Planning to attend or host an outdoor Super Bowl party or backyard barbecue in the coming days? We’ve got the perfect recipes for you. Or if you’re looking to take your pregame tailgating to a local establishment, below you’ll find restaurants and bars that will keep you protected from the L.A. sun. Here are a few more recommendations.

While the game will come and go this weekend, Angelenos know that this won’t be the last heatwave of the year. So we’ve also included tips and tricks to help your community — whether it be your kids, pets, neighbors or even your plants — stay safe and cool.

Rams vs. Bengals: Key matchups and players to watch during Super Bowl LVI

Los Angeles, CA - January 30: Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford passes the ball during their 20-17 victory.

So you know who is playing in the Super Bowl (the Rams and Cincinnati Bengals), when it is being played (Sunday at 3:30 p.m. PST), and how to watch (NBC, Telemundo and various streaming platforms).

But what about the nitty-gritty parts of the game? Here are some key matchups and players to keep an eye on while you’re watching.

Rams pass offense vs. Bengals pass defense

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is the odds-on favorite to win Super Bowl MVP honors and with good reason: He has committed only one turnover in the playoffs. Stafford faces a 4-3 Bengals defense coordinated by Lou Anarumo that includes play-making safeties Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III. But no secondary has contained receiver Cooper Kupp, who has been unstoppable creating separation and gaining yards after the catch. And only on the Rams would Odell Beckham Jr. be a second option. Bengals ends Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard lead a pass rush that sacked Patrick Mahomes four times in the AFC championship. EDGE: Rams

Super Bowl LVI prop bets: Who will win MVP? How many sacks for Aaron Donald?

Thousands of proposition betting options are available for Super Bowl LVI, and rapidly expanding legalization has opened up a lot of new markets for wagering. There will be more money bet on this year’s game than ever before. While some will stick to the basics of the side, total or moneyline bets, the props are going to be the best way to try to make money with the big game.

The sheer number of props makes it extremely hard for the sportsbooks to set good numbers on all of them. Bettors have been attacking these for the better part of a week and have taken a lot of strong positions.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones and then some of my favorites:

The Super Bowl is in L.A.! We’ve got recommendations for you

Greetings, Super Bowl visitors (and Angelenos hosting Super Bowl visitors)! Some may be surprised to learn that Los Angeles isn’t one big city, but an endless hodgepodge of discrete communities connected by some of the slowest roadways in the country. Thinking of driving from your hotel in Santa Monica to visit friends in Pasadena, and then dining at that new hot spot in Long Beach? Good luck with that.

To help you plan, we’ve made some suggestions — including where to have a great meal, take a hike, have a coffee date, do something touristy, or (maybe, possibly) spot a celebrity — about how to make the most of the non-Super Bowl parts of your stay.

We’ve also got the latest on COVID vaccination and masking rules, as well as details about how to get to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood for the game.

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